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CHANNING TATUM KICKS OFF “TEAM OSCAR®” ON “THE ELLEN DEGENERES SHOW”

November 15, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Winning College Students to Appear on Oscars® Telecast

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Channing Tatum and The Academy today launched the “Team Oscar” college search on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” along with this year’s Oscars host, Ellen DeGeneres, by inviting the next generation of filmmakers to vie for an opportunity to appear onstage during the live Oscar broadcast. Winners will deliver Oscar statuettes to celebrity presenters at the Academy Awards® on Oscar Sunday, March 2, 2014, live on ABC.

“We were very happy to have created this college program for last year’s show. It was a huge success, and we’re excited to take it to the next level,” said show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. “With Channing Tatum set to help us discover a new group of talented young filmmakers and ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ on board to chronicle their stories, we feel Team Oscar will be more rewarding and exciting than ever.”

Run through The Academy’s Facebook page, Team Oscar is open to U.S. college students, and submissions are due by January 5, 2014. To enter, students must visit The Academy’s Facebook page, where they can submit a creative short video explaining how they will contribute to the future of movies and answer a brief essay question on a similar topic.

Producers Zadan and Meron, along with Tatum and the Academy, will ultimately pick a minimum of six winners who will be flown to Los Angeles by United Airlines, the official airline of the Academy, to participate in the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center®.

“It’s inspiring to see talented young people passionate about movies, and I’m excited to help shine a spotlight on them through Team Oscar,” said Tatum. “I’m looking forward to viewing and judging the creative videos submitted on Facebook and working with Craig, Neil and the Academy to choose winners who epitomize the next generation of filmmakers.”

Tatum will return to “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” in early 2014 to announce the Team Oscar winners.

Oscars for outstanding film achievements of 2013 will be presented on Oscar Sunday, March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center and televised live on the ABC Television Network. The presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

White House Down (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

October 27, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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“White House Down” is an exciting, popcorn action film.  Roland Emmerich is great at creating huge action films and this one is no exception.  Featuring a strong cast and an entertaining storyline, despite for its storyline shortcomings, fans of Emmerich’s previous action films will no doubt be entertained by “White House Down”.  

Images courtesy of © 2013 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: White House Down

DURATION: 132 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 2:40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai Dolby Digital 5.1, Subtitles: English SDH, Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin Simplified and Mandarin Traditional), French, Korean, Malay, Portuguese, Spanish

COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (Some Material May be Inappropriate to Children Under 13)

RELEASE DATE: November 5, 2013

Directed by Roland Emmerich

Written by James Vanderbilt

Produced by Roland Emmerich, Brad Fischer, Larry J. Franco, Laeta Kalogridis, Harald Kloser, James Vanderbilt

Co-Producer: Volker Engel, Marc Weigert

Executive Producer: Reid Carolin, ute Emmerich, Channing Tatum

Music by Harald Kloser, Thomas Wanker

Cinematography by Anna Foerster

Edited by Adam Wolfe

Casting by John Pasidera

Production Design by Kirk M. Petrucelli

Set Decoration by Marie-Soleil Denomme, Paul Hotte, David Laramy

Costume Design by Lisa Christl

Starring:

Channing Tatum as Cale

Jamie Foxx as President Sawyer

Maggie Gyllenhaal as Finnerty

Jason Clarke as Stenz

Richard Jenkins as Raphelson

Joey King as Emily

James Woods as Walker

James Woods as Walker

Nicolas Wright as the Donnie the Guide

Jimmi Simpson as Tyler

Michael Murphy as Vice President Hammond

Rachelle Lefevre as Melanie

Lance Reddick as General Caulfield

Matt Craven as Agent Kellerman

Jake Weber as Agent Hope

Peter Jacobson as Wallace

Barbara Williams as Muriel Walker

Kevin Rankin as Killick

Garcell Beauvais as Alison Sawyer

Falk Hentschel as Motts

Romano Orzari as Mulcahy

Jackie Geary as Jenna

Andrew Simms as Roger Skinner

Vincent Leclerc as Agent Todd

Capitol Policeman John Cale (Channing Tatum) has just been denied his dream job with the Secret Service of protecting President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx). Not wanting to let down his little girl with the news, he takes her on a tour of the White House, during which the complex is overtaken by a heavily armed paramilitary group. Now, with the nation’s government falling into chaos and time running out, it’s up to Cale to save the president, his daughter, and the country. Co-starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, Richard Jenkins and James Woods.

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From Roland Emmerich, the director of “The Day After Tomorrow”, “Independence Day”, “Godzilla” and “2012” comes his latest action thriller “White House Down”.

Written by James Vanderbilt (“The Amazing Spider-Man”, “Zodiac”, “The Rundown”), the film would star Channing Tatum (“21 Jump Street”, “White House Down”, “Magic Mike”), Jamie Foxx (“Django Unchained”, “Law Abiding Citizen”, “Collateral”, “Ray”), Maggie Gyllenhaal (“The Dark Knight”, “Donnie Darko”, “Secretary”), Jason Clarke (“Zero Dark Thirty”, “Lawless”, “Public Enemies”, “Gatsby”), Richard Jenkins (“Jack Reacher”, “The Cabin in the Woods”, “Step Brothers”), Joey King (“Oz the Great and Powerful”, “The Dark Knight Rises”) and James Woods (“Videodrome”, “Casino”, “The Virgin Suicides”).

The film would earn over $200 million in the in box office and in Nov. 2013, “White House Down” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

“White House Down” revolves around John Cale (portrayed by Channing Tatum), a man working as a Capitol Hill police officer for Raphelson (portrayed by Richard Jenkins) and his security detail.  A former serviceman and also a divorced husband, it’s his week to take care of his daughter Emily (portrayed by Joey King).

Cale is often not in his daughter’s life because of his previous stint in the military and now with his new job but for the day, he wants to surprise her to a trip to the White House, the same day he is to apply for a job in Secret Service for the President of the United States.

He knows that Emily is a big fan of the President of the United States and is obsessed with details of the President and the White House and runs a YouTube channel.

Meanwhile, we are introduced to President Sawyer (portrayed by Jamie Foxx), who is trying to get his peace plan pushed and work with the Middle East.

As Cale applies for the job, he finds out that the person interviewing him is an old high school flame, Finnerty (portrayed by Maggie Gyllenhaal) and because of his lack of education, she doesn’t feel that Cale is suitable for the job.

We are introduced to Walker (portrayed by James Woods), the head of the secret service detail for the President and a man who is retiring.  He tells Finnerty to go home and rest, while he enjoys his final day at the White House.

While Cale and Emily are on a White House tour, Emily goes to the bathroom.   Meanwhile, a group of terrorists are seen as a group working on the White House. They set off a bomb which destroys part of the White House and kills many people in the process.  In the confusion, while some of the high ranking cabinet members escape, including the Vice President.

As Emily is about to leave the bathroom, she sees the terrorists unmasked and begins taking video with her camera and hides behind a curtain.

As Walker escorts the President to his bunker, Walker reveals himself as a traitor and begins to shoot everyone inside the bunker.  As for Cale, the terrorist try to enter the area where the tour group is located and Cale manages to escape.  As he tries to find his daughter, he manages to take out one of the terrorist and takes his weapon.  In the process, he saw Walker escorting the President to the bunker and manages to rescue the President Sawyer from Walker.

As the two hide outside an elevator shaft, they both find out that the head of the terrorist group, Stenz (portrayed by Jason Clarke) is working with Walker and that both men are wanting revenge against the President.  He has given the orders to find the President and keep him alive.  But when Stenz finds out that Cale took out of his best men, he makes it a mission to find Cale and kill him.

So, the terrorist try to look for both President Sawyer and Cale, but can Cale keep the President protected and find his daughter before they find her?

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VIDEO & AUDIO:

“White House Down” is presented in 2:40:1 anamorphic widescreen. It’s important to note that if you want the best picture and audio quality, the Blu-ray version is the way to go.

While the DVD version looks good, the audio is quite active thanks to its English, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.  Great use of the surround channels as you can hear bullets zipping, explosions galore and also crowd ambiance as well.

Subtitles are in English SDH, Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin Simplified and Mandarin Traditional), French, Korean, Malay, Portuguese and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“White House Down” comes with the following special features:

  • A Dynamic Duo – (4:10) How Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx got along perfectly well on the set and had great working chemistry, and how they were able to do some improvisation and play off each other.
  • Men Of Action - (3:44) A featurette of the stunt coordination of the film.
  • - (5:09) The cast and crew discuss working with Roland Emmerich.
  • Meet The Insiders – (5:14) Writer James Vanderbilt talks about the cast and also featuring the cast talking about their character role.

EXTRAS:

“White House Down” comes with an UltraViolet code for one to access a Digital Copy for their table or cell phone.

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It’s interesting to see two films in 2013 that deals with the White House being attacked by terrorists.

The first was “Olympus Has Fallen” and now, the release of “White House Down”. Both having their own similarities but with the former being much more violent and dealing with a foreign terrorist, an American traitor while trying to save a child, the latter having a bit more humor, dealing with American terrorists, an American traitor and also trying to save a child.

Both films have received mixed reviews, both were expensive to make and made more than what the film was budgeted for, which is good.

Taking a look at “White House Down”, one of the biggest appeals to the film is you have two popular stars such as Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx and when you have a filmmaker such as Roland Emmerich involved, suffice to say, you’re going to have a lot of CG of destruction and a lot of action.

And I felt that “White House Down” delivers!

The film establishes the character of John Cale as a Capitol Hill officer, former veteran, a single father who is divorced and wanting to spend time with a daughter he never had much time to be with.  There relationship is somewhat strained and his daughter Emily tends to make an emphasis each time she calls him “John” but also having President Wallace as her hero, not her father.

Suffice to say that Channing Tatum has come a long way as an action hero.  From “G.I. Joe” to “21 Jump Street” and now “White House Down”, we have seen how far this young actor has come and for the most part, for an action film, his role as John Cale is his best action role yet.  In fact, as what Bruce Willis has done for John McClane, I can see future possibilities for John Cale.  Because if Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer can save the White House in “24” and go on to take part in many other heroic campaigns, with Tatum’s popularity and potential popularity of his character, it can happen.

But then again, Roland Emmerich films have not yet received any sequels (but his future work “ID Forever” which is currently in pre-production, will).

As for Jamie Foxx, one may see his role as a President a bit of a surprise.  Mainly because so many are used to watching the comedian and singer in other type of roles but yet, Foxx has shown amazing potential as a serious actor since the 2004 film “Ray”.  And the fact that Foxx has begun playing roles that people tend to not picture him in, may it be as President of the United States or next year’s film as Electro in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2″.

As President Sawyer, Foxx does a very good job of dialing the humor in, fighting when he has too but also being a courageous character wanting to protect the country.  But in Jamie Foxx fashion, also expecting an “F-bomb” once in awhile.  Emmerich allowed moments of improvisation between Tatum and Foxx and because both men were able to click with each other as actors and the chemistry worked between both, it helped make the film a bit more entertaining to watch.

The film also has a strong supporting cast with Maggie Gyllenhaal as Finnerty, a woman who communicates with Cale during the entire film but also an intelligent woman who senses there is more to the situation, than the traitor being Secret Service head, Walker, a character which James Wood manages to play with efficacy.

But aside from Tatum and Foxx, the next actor who gets plenty of screen time is young actress Joey King as John Cale’s daughter, Emily.

Where in “Olympus Has Fallen”, the child is a young son of the President and his fear is justified, the character of Emily is a White House erudite.  She knows about the tunnels, many facts about the White House that even her father is surprised.  But while Emily also shows fear to what she has seen, it’s one of the few times where you see a child also so brave as she uses her cell phone to capture video of the terrorist and upload it to YouTube.

But when confronted by terrorists she is a child that is not afraid to tell the terrorists how she feels.  The young actress definitely has a character role that is not only sassy but also heroic.

While I did enjoy “White House Down”, there were several things that made me roll my eyes.  For one, a terrorist attack would not allow military or police to have civilians crowding in front of the White House.  I can see the streets blocked for a mile away to prevent civilians from getting close to the White House.

Another issue and a personal peeve are the driving moments between Cale and Emily and the usual, I’m not watching the road, I keep looking at the person in the passenger seat for a little too long in traffic.

And the ending had a bit too much bravado with situations that are a bit farfetched.

But this is a Roland Emmerich film, you are used to seeing the impossible happen and the craziest things happen in his popcorn action films.  So, I guess it’s best to say that we are used to it by now.

As for the DVD, as mentioned, for those wanting the best PQ and AQ, the Blu-ray is the way to go.  But the DVD does look good, its audio is its best point as the many action scenes utilize the surround channels quite well.  Although, I did feel the special features were too short.

Overall, “White House Down” is an exciting, popcorn action film.  Roland Emmerich is great at creating huge action films and this one is no exception.  Featuring a strong cast and an entertaining storyline, despite for its storyline shortcomings, fans of Emmerich’s previous action films will no doubt be entertained by “White House Down”.

This is the End (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 30, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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“The film is rather wild, crazy and ridiculous…but I enjoyed “This is the End” because of that!  It’s so unusual, yet fun and it features many celebrity cameos as well.  If you are looking for a crazy film to watch, definitely give this apocalyptic comedy a try! 

Images courtesy of © 2013 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: This is the End

FILM RELEASE: 2013

DURATION: 107 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:40:1, Engish 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French, English Audio Description 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, English, French

COMPANY: Sony Picture Home Entertainment

RATED: R (For Crude and Sexual Content Throughout, Brief Graphic Nudity, Pervasive Language, Drug Use and Some Violence)

Release Date: October 1, 2013

Directed by Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen

Screenplay by Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg

Based on the short film “Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse” by Jason Stone

Produced by Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, James Weaver

Executive Producer: Jay Baruchel, Evan Goldberg, Barbara A. Hall, Kyle Hunter, Nathan Kahane, Ariel Shaffir, Jason Stone

Music by Henry Jackman

Cinematography by Brandon Trost

Edited by Zene Baker

Casting by Francine Maisler

Production Design by Chris L. Spellman

Art Direction by William Ladd Skinner

Set Decoration by Helen Britten

Costume Design by Danny Glicker

Starring:

James Franco as James Franco

Jonah Hill as Jonah Hill

Seth Rogen as Seth rogen

Jay Baruchel as Jay Baruchel

Danny McBride as Danny McBride

Craig Robinson as Craig Robinson

Michael Cera as Michael Cera

Emma Watson as Emma Watson

Mindy Kailing as Mindy Kailing

David Krumholtz as David Krumholtz

Rihanna as Rihanna

Martin Starr as Martin Starr

Paul Rudd as Paul Rudd

Channing Tatum as Channing Tatum

Kevin Hart as Kevin Hart

Aziz Ansari as Aziz Ansari

Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Christopher Mintz Plasse

THIS IS THE END follows six friends trapped in a house after a series of strange and catastrophic events devastate Los Angeles. As the world unravels outside, dwindling supplies and cabin fever threaten to tear apart the friendships inside. Eventually, they are forced to leave the house, facing their fate and the true meaning of friendship and redemption.

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For filmmakers and writers Evan Goldberg (“Pineapple Express”, “Superbad”, “The Green Hornet”) and Seth Rogen (“Pineapple Express”, “Knocked Up”, “The Green Hornet”), the two have wanted to create a film in which the actors play themselves.

In 2007, Goldberg along with director Jay Stone would create the short “Jay and Seth versus the Apocalypse”which was posted on YouTube and would lead to Stone and Goldberg to shop the project around and by 2011, a feature film adaptation of the short was made.

The film would star Jay Baruchel, Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride and would also feature Jason Segel, Emma Watson, Michael Cera, Rihanna, Mindy Kailing, David Krumholtz, Paul Rudd, Channing Tatum, Kevin Hart, Aziz Ansari and many more.

The apocalyptic/comedy film which was budgeted around $32 million, would go on to earn over $116 million and receive positive reviews from American film critics.

And now “This is the End” will be released on Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy combo pack in October 2013.

“This is the End” begins with actor Jay Baruchel visiting his friend, actor Seth Rogen in Los Angeles.  Jay is not a big fan of living or being in Los Angeles and just wants to hang out, smoke weed, play video games and eat snacks with his buddy.

But Seth wants to take Jay to actor James Franco’s home, who is having a housewarming party.  Jay doesn’t want to go but for Seth, he’ll do it.

And when the two arrive, it’s a celebrity party with James Franco, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Emma Watson, Rihanna, Jason Segel, David Krumholtz, Emma Watson, Mindy Kailing, Kevin Hart and many other people who are getting drunk or high.While everyone is having fun, Jay feels uncomfortable.

Needing some cigarettes, Jay asks Seth to take him to a convenience store and when they go, beams of blue light carries people up to the skies, while chaos takes place all around the city as car accidents are happening all over the place and the group  end up running to Franco’s home.

When both Seth and Jay come running back inside Franco’s home, Jay tries to explain to people what happened but they think he’s high on drugs.  When Jay tries to have Seth back him up, Seth acts as if he saw nothing.  Thinking that there is an earthquake, people at the party start running out they see Los Angeles in flames.

Immediately, Michael Cera is impaled and the ground starts to open alll around theme and many people including the celebrities fall to their death.

The only survivors from the party are James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel and Craig Robinson and try to seek safety inside James Franco’s home.

The group then plans their survival strategy of living with limited food and water, drugs and a functioning revolver from the movie “Flyboys” and try to protect themselves by barricading the home with paintings and duck tape.

The following morning, as the group wakes up, they find Danny McBride cooking almost all the food that they have., wasting their supplies.  The group are upset at him for using up all their food and told them that they needed to save the food until they are rescued.  Danny doesn’t believe them until they see a man trying to come in from a hole in the wall, asking for their help and he ends up being beheaded.

As the group tries to make the best of their time doing drugs and filming a sequel to “Pineapple Express”, various conflicts begin to take place in the home they start to distrust each other.  Meanwhile, Jay believes what is taking place is the Apocalypse as described in the “Book of Revelation” in the Bible.  And the blue lights that brought people up is the rapture as the good go to heaven and that demons are now on Earth.

Will any of these actors survive the Apocalypse?

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VIDEO:

“This is the End” receives a mastering in 4K and presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio).  But the majority of the film is shot indoors and the lighting is meant to be dim and the outdoor scenes are at night.  With that being said, it’s not a film where one can expect to see vibrant colors but the CG elements of the film look great.  From Los Angeles in flames, blue lights carrying people up to the sky.  Really good use of CG in this film, from creating the chaos and apocalyptic surroundings to a huge demon.  The balance of CG and the actual film worked very well.

But once again, not the most vibrant of the films but good details on closeups and seeing detail on the clothing.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“This is the End” is presented in English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio.  French 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital.  As the film was given a 4K mastering on Blu-ray, its highlight would be its lossless soundtrack as the apocalyptic scenes are quite immersive.  Explosions, car crashes, ground rumbling, big demon attacking everyone, when the action is taking place, the surround channels and LFE are well-used.  Dialogue and music (during the part sequence) are crystal clear and for the most part, “This is the End” is an immersive film when it comes to the action scenes!

Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“This is the End” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with co-directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg
  • Directing Your Friends – (6:31) Co-directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg talk about working with your friends.
  • Marketing Outtakes – (6:39) Outtakes for the marketing promotionals for “This is the End”.
  • Aziz Haunts Craig – (1:04) Aziz Ansari haunts Craig Robinson.
  • James and Danny Confessional – (1:19) James Franco and Danny McBride’s confessional.
  • Jonah Confessional – (1:18) Jonah Hill’s confessional.
  • Seth and Jay Confessional – (:57) Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel confessional.
  • The Cast – (3:45) The cast of “This is the End” talk about what the movie is about.
  • Redband Sizzle Trailer – (1:47) Redband trailer for “This is the End”.
  • This is the Gag Reel – (6:16) Outtakes from “This is the End”.
  • Deleted Scenes - Featuring eight deleted scenes.
  • Line-O-Rama – For those who have watched Seth Rogen films, line-o-rama features the improvised scenes (about 12 minutes long for all) and there are three scenes featured: Sleepover, We Don’t Know You Man! and Cum Battle!.
  • Meta-Apocalypse – (7:43) The cast talks about playing themselves (albeit exaggerated versions) on “This is the End”.
  • Party Time – (12:54) The making of the house party sequence with the many star cameos.  But also how the special effects were done for this scene.
  • The Cannibal King – (4:25)  Outtakes from Danny McBride and Channing Tatum’s scene.
  • Let’s Get Technical – (10:44) How various scenes were created and how the look of the film came about.
  • The Making of “The Making of Pineapple Express 2″ – (6:20) The making of the “Pineapple Express 2″ segment featured in “This is the End”.
  • Jay & Seth vs. The Apocalypse – The Original Short – (9:58) The original short that inspired “This is the End”.

EXTRAS:

“This is the End” comes with the Blu-ray, DVD and UltraViolet Digital Copy.  Also, included is a slipcover.

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Watching “This is the End” and seeing the various talent such as Jonah Hill, Danny McBride and Seth Rogen himself, you know you are going to get one heck of a crazy comedy and in this case, one of the wildest, hilarious films that I have seen but yet can also say, it won’t be for everybody.

The film has a self-deprecating humorous style as everyone involved are friends and they can poke at each other and have fun with it.

From the “gay” jokes that are featured with James Franco, the jokes of Jay Baruchel and his body, jokes about Jonah Hill’s demeanor and the fact that the actors are playing exaggerated versions of themselves also adds to the fun.  For example, during the party, Michael Cera is seen to be a guy who has a lot sex with females at the party and does a load of drugs.

But the jokes are very funny, not sure how much of it was scripted or improvised but there are some spontaneous reactions and words that come out of their mouths, especially from Danny McBride that are hilarious, so wrong but he manages to make it work.

The film also features a lot of star cameos from talents such as Emma Watson, Jason Segel, Paul Rudd, Michael Cera, Kevin Hart, Mindy Kailing, Rihanna, Martin Starr and many more.

And the use of CG elements such as the destruction of Los Angeles and a large demon flying around the city was well-done.

But now the bad, this film is not for everyone especially those who are religious.  The film does poke fun on the rapture and also a perception of heaven that may offend people.  So, for those who are sensitive about those type of things, this film is not for you.

“This is the End” is a film that features a lot of drug use, profanity and adult humor.  And there are some violence that are not necessarily realistic but there are scenes with a man’s head being cut off and the guys being scared and begin kicking the head around like a soccer ball.  It’s not scary at all but once again, for those who may be sensitive to those type of things,  may not want to watch this film.

As for the Blu-ray release, when I saw that it was mastered in 4K, I have to admit that I was excited but the film is shot in dim areas, during the dark and aside from the ending sequence and the interior of Seth Rogen’s living room, the majority of the film is shot in dim areas.  So, picture quality is not going to show off a lot of colors but the film does look good, especially during closeups.  The highlight for “This is the End” is its immersive lossless soundtrack.

During the action scenes, the film manages to utilize the LFE and surround channels very well, so may it be the opening sequence with the airplane or random cars crashing into each other or ground opening up and causing destruction and deaths all around, the action does sound great.  Dialogue and music featured in the film are crystal clear and for the most part, “This is the End” features a pretty awesome lossless soundtrack.  And the film also features a good amount of special features as well, including the original short “Jay & Seth vs. The Apocalypse” which inspired the film.

Overall, “This is the End” is a hilarious film that one can expect from Seth Rogen.  Some jokes may fall flat, others much better and may make you laugh.  But what I enjoyed are the most spontaneous moments that you don’t expect and the comments that sort of rib other fellow actors and it helps that this group are friends, so they can partake in all that and have fun with it.

The film is rather wild, crazy and ridiculous…but I enjoyed “This is the End” because of that!  It’s so unusual, yet fun and it features many celebrity cameos as well.  If you are looking for a crazy film to watch, definitely give this apocalyptic comedy a try!

OSCAR® WINNER CHARLIZE THERON, CHANNING TATUM, JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT AND DANIEL RADCLIFFE TO MAKE SPECIAL APPEARANCES ON THE OSCARS®

February 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The Oscars will feature special appearances by Academy Award® winner Charlize Theron, Channing Tatum, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Daniel Radcliffe at the upcoming Awards ceremony.

“We are quite excited to have Charlize, Chan, Joe and Dan join us on the show,” said telecast producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. “We are happy to feature them as special guests in our production.”

This will be Gordon-Levitt, Radcliffe and Tatum’s first time appearing on the Oscar show.

Theron won an Oscar for her leading role in “Monster” and received her second nomination for her leading role in “North Country” (2005). Theron starred in 2012’s “Prometheus” and “Snow White and the Huntsman.”

Tatum, who starred in five films of 2012, including “Magic Mike,” “21 Jump Street” and “The Vow,” will next be seen in “Side Effects,” due out this week, and “White House Down,” due out this Summer.

Gordon-Levitt had a very busy year, with roles in “Dark Knight Rises,” “Looper” and the Best Picture nominee “Lincoln.” He most recently starred in “Don Jon’s Addiction,” which he also wrote and directed, and which premiered at Sundance last month.

Radcliffe starred as the title character in the “Harry Potter” series, which is the highest grossing film series of all time. In 2012 he starred in “The Woman in Black,” and this year will be seen in “Kill Your Darlings,” “Horns” and “The F Word.”

Theron, Tatum, Gordon-Levitt and Radcliffe join a stellar list of previously announced Oscar presenters including “The Avengers” cast members Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner and Mark Ruffalo; returning 2011 Oscar winners Jean Dujardin, Christopher Plummer, Octavia Spencer and Meryl Streep; co-stars Mark Wahlberg and Ted; and, musical performers including Adele, Norah Jones and Barbra Streisand.

Oscars for outstanding film achievements of 2012 will be presented on Oscar Sunday, February 24, at the Dolby Theatre™ at Hollywood & Highland Center, and will be hosted by Seth MacFarlane live on the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries worldwide. For more information go to Oscar.com or download the official Oscars app.

ABOUT CRAIG ZADAN AND NEIL MERON

Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are producers of critically acclaimed and award-winning feature films, television movies, series, and Broadway productions. Their feature films include The Bucket List, Footloose, Hairspray, and Chicago, which won six Academy Awards including one for “Best Picture.” For television, they’ve produced films of “Steel Magnolias,” “Life with Judy Garland,” and “A Raisin in the Sun,” among many others and the series “Smash” and “Drop Dead Diva.” They recently returned to their roots in live theater by producing Broadway revivals of the Tony-winning “Promises, Promises” and the Tony-winning 50th Anniversary revival of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”

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Step Up (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 29, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

“Step Up” may not be an original or even a great dance film, but I still enjoyed the dance choreography and the bad boy meets rich girl storyline.  Back when this film came out, I had low expectations.  But after watching it, I realized that “Step Up” is one of the better dancing films out there.  And since the release of this film, compared to the other “Step Up” films that have been released, “Step Up” still has the better storyline.  If you are a fan of the film or love dancing films, “Step Up” is definitely worth owning on Blu-ray!

Images courtesy of © 2012 Buena Vista Home Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Step Up

FILM RELEASE: 2006

DURATION: 103 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:35:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French and Spanish, 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles:English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Touchstone Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (For Thematic Elements, Brief Violence and Innuendo)

Release Date: July 3, 2012

Directed by Anne Fletcher

Screenplay by Duane Adler, Melissa Rosenberg

Story by Duane Adler

Produced by Erik Feig, Jennifer Gibgot, Adam Shankman, Patrick Wachsberger

Co-Producer: Meredith Milton

Executive Producer: David Garrett, Bob Hayward, John H. Starke

Associate Producer: Andrew Matosich, Mimi Tseng

Music by Aaron Zigman

Cinematography by Michael Seresin

Edited by Nancy Richardson

Casting by Joanna Colbert, Richard Mento

Production Design by Shepherd Frankel

Art Direction by Laura Ballinger

Set Decoration by Susan Kessel

Costume Design by Alix Hester

Starring:

Channing Tatum as Tyler Gage

Jenna Dewan-Tatum as Nora Clark

Damaine Radcliff as Mac Carter

De’Shawn Washington as Skinny Carter

Mario as Miles Darby

Drew Sidora as Lucy Avila

Rachel Griffiths as Director Gordon

Josh Henderson as Brett Dolan

Tim Lacatena as Andrew

Alyson Stoner as Camille

Heavy D as Omar

Deirdre Lovejy as Nora’s Mom

Jane Beard as Lena Freeman

Richard Pelzman as Bill Freeman

Experience the dynamic dancing and awesome music of Step Up – now on Blu-ray for the first time with an all-new digital restoration and enhanced picture and sound. Channing Tatum (21 Jump Street) sizzles as Tyler Gage, a streetwise hunk with a reckless streak, in this exhilarating movie about never giving up on your dreams. When Tyler is sentenced to do community service at a school for the performing arts, he wants nothing to do with their world…until he meets a beautiful dancer who gives him a chance and helps him discover his astonishing pure talent.
Featuring the incredible music of Yung Joc, Sean Paul, Chris Brown, Kelis, Mario and Ciara, Step Up explodes on Blu-ray High Definition. Relive every electrifying moment today!

Anne Fletcher appeared as a dancer on films such as “The Flinstones”, “The Mask” and “Tank Girl” but she also developed the choreography for “Boogie Nights” and “A Life Less Ordinary”.

Although best known as a choreographer, in 2006, Fletcher received the opportunity to direct her first film.  That film would be “Step Up” (2006), a $12 million dance/romance film starring unknown talent at the time, Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan.

Suffice to say, “Step Up” was an amazing success despite critics panning it.  “Step Up” earned over $119 million in the box office and since the release of the movie, there are now a total of four “Step Up” films, Anne Fletcher has gone to direct films such as “27 Dresses” and “The Proposal”, Channing Tatum became a big movie star (“Public Enemies”, “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”, “21 Jump Street”, “The Vow”, “Magic Mike”) and Jenna Dewan (“The Playboy Club”, “Melrose Place”, “The Grudge 2″) would go on to marry her co-star and is now known as Jenna Dewan-Tatum.

The film would star R&B singer Mario (“Freedom Writers”), a a young Alyson Stoner (“Camp Rock” films, “Step Up 3D”, “Cheaper by the Dozen”, voice actress for “Phineas and Ferb”),  Rachel Griffiths (“Blow”, “Brothers & Sisters”, “Six Feet Under”), Drew Sidora (“Wild Hogs”, “Never Die Alone”, “White Chicks”), Damaine Radcliff (“Glory Road”, who does the visual effects now for “Supah Ninjas”), De’Shawn Washington and the late Heavy D.

And now “Step Up” will be released on Blu-ray in July 2012 courtesy of Touchstone Home Entertainment.

“Step Up” is set in Baltimore and Tyler Gage (as portrayed by Channing Tatum) hangs out with his best friend Mac (as portrayed by Damaine Radcliff) and his younger brother Skinny Carter (as portrayed by De’Shawn Washington).  Tyler lives with foster parents with a foster mother who is busy working, a father who is always watching TV and getting drunk and a foster brother and sister.

Tyler is a great street dancer but also has a hot temper that typically lands him in trouble.  After getting into a fight at a party, the three end up breaking into the Maryland School of Arts and destroying many of the props on stage.  A security guard manages to catch Tyler and in the process, is sentenced by a judge to 200 hours of community service at the school.  Director Gordon (as portrayed by Rachel Griffiths) tells Tyler that his actions has denied a student from receiving a scholarship because of the damage he had created.  And now, he will be working as an intern for the janitor.

Working as a janitor, Tyler often watches the dance class, especially looking at dancer Nora Clark (as portrayed by Jenna Dewan).  The two catch each other’s eyes but she is in a relationship with another guy.  Meanwhile, when Tyler’s friends go visit the school, Tyler shows off his street dancing and Nora sees him dancing from afar.

Nora Clark is a student preparing for her “senior showcase” and the showcase is her final shot of getting into a dance company.  But unfortunately her partner suffers an injury and with no partner, Nora stresses out that she will lose everything that she has worked hard for.  She tries to interview other male partners but none can lift her or can match her dancing.

Feeling dejected, Tyler offers to be her partner.  Feelings that she has nothing else to lose, she goes to test him by seeing if he can lift her.  And sure enough, he does.

Nora goes to Director Gordon asking for permission for Tyler to use his community service hours towards being her dance partner for rehearsals and the reluctant director agrees.

And as Nora and Tyler being to practice with each other, both start becoming even closer and for Tyler, being part of the Maryland School of Arts and the dance program, makes him feel that he would like to be part of it as well.  But his friend Mac is now getting into stealing vehicles for a chop shop and wanting Tyler to be involved.  Meanwhile, Mac’s younger brother Skinny is also wanting to be part of the action.

But as Tyler becomes more dedicated to dancing with Nora and helping her with her “Senior Showcase”, he must choose to pursue his dreams as a dancer or to live a life in crime which may lead to tragedy.

VIDEO:

“Step Up” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1).   Having watched this film several times, especially for the dance choreography, I can easily say that the film looks absolutely gorgeous on Blu-ray.  From the cinematography of the talented Michael Seresin (“Harry Potter and the Prison of Azkaban”, “Midnight Express”, “The Life of David Gale”, “Sleeping Dogs”), Seresin is known for capturing action and despair.  For this film, he manages to capture inner-street culture, beautiful scenery as both Tyler and Nora are above a building top overlooking the harbor but most importantly capturing dance choreography and making things look smooth.

The video quality for this 2006 film looks good especially during the dance scenes which utilize a lot of different lights and coloring.  If anything, Seresin uses lighting effectively throughout the film.  Skin tones look natural, I was expecting to possibly see banding during the more intensive red lighting but everything looked great. Black levels were nice and deep and I detected no banding, DNR or artifacting during my viewing of the entire film.

The clarity of the Blu-ray release over the original DVD release is quite noticeable and fans of the film should be happy with this Blu-ray release.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Step Up” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.  First and foremost, “Step Up” is a film that is primarily dialogue and music-driven.  While there are some scenes such as broken glass or even a gun shot, dialogue is crystal clear as with the music which utilizes bass, cool beats and also scenes with crowd ambiance (especially during the final sequence).  The lossless soundtrack is quite appropriate for this film and fans who enjoyed the film before, will enjoy the clarity of the music on Blu-ray!

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Step Up” comes with the following special features:

  • Deleted ScenesA total of seven deleted scenes including an optional deleted scenes commentary track by director Anne Fletcher.
  • Bloopers – (1:36) Outtakes from “Step Up”.
  • Making the Movie – (4:39) Director Ann Fletcher talks about being a choreographer and working with a talented team including the choreographers who helped prepapre the talent for the film.  Interviews with cast and Benny the choreographer.
  • Music Videos – Featuring the following music videos “Step Up” by Samantha Jade, “(When You Gonna) Give It Up to Me” by Sean Paul feat. Keyshia Cole, “Say Goodbye” by Chris Brown and “Get Up” Ciara feat. Chamillionaire.

Having watched the “Step Up” films evolve since the original, I felt that the films have become more of an emphasis on choreography than story.  Which is not a bad thing if you tend to watch dance films wanting to see more choreography, but “Step Up” is one of those films that you look back and say to yourself, “Channing Tatum was pretty awesome in that movie”.

Sure, we are so used to seeing Channing Tatum as action hero or romantic lead but “Step Up” was an earlier work that did show some potential for the actor.  To tell you the truth, he seemed so natural as a dancer and you just don’t see that happening with a lot of movie stars, who typically train for the role and have a body double.

But not for this film.

This is where Anne Fletcher’s strength as a choreographer is effective.  She knows how fake dance films can be when the actual talents are not being used and in this case, she made sure that the cast was well-selected and most importantly, she envisioned how the choreography would be and have her staff prepare for the talent for those scenes.  Both Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan look natural, feel natural and it made the film work.  I actually liked the blending of ballet and hip-hop choreography.

But with that being said about the choreography, what about the film and the acting?

Haven’t we been there before with the 2001 film “Save the Last Dance”.  Ballerina hooks up with a tough guy from the wrong side of the city.  Granted, Channing Tatum is not Black but there is a banality of films about rich girl, poor guy/bad boy hooking up.

Also, I’ve described Channing Tatum’s acting as stiff, not recently but more of his past films.  But I will say unlike “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”, Tatum is more in his element it seems for “Step Up” and by no means is his dancing stiff.  The guy can pop, dance and still shows a little bit of that when I was reviewing the Blu-ray of “21 Jump Street” earlier in the week.

The thing is, he has grown as an actor since this film but the character role of Tyler, a troubled teen from a troubled home, Tatum made it work!

Aside from banality, there are some issues of pacing and for more serious viewers, some may feel the subplot involving Miles Darby (as portrayed by Mario) and Lucy Avila (as portrayed by Drew Sidora) as unnecessary.  In a way, it was because these characters were not fleshed out all that well.  They are more diversions, where at least Miles contributes to the music, Lucy Avila is more of the friend who keeps egging her friend Nora to go for Tyler.  But when it comes to their friendship, the storyline falls apart and feels forced as if the film needed to increase the time of duration.  In fact, there is a storyline that involves Nora’s boyfriend/ex-boyfriend Brett Dolan (as portrayed by Josh Henderson) and it seems as if he could be an intriguing rival to Tyler but his character disappears by the second half of the film.

If anything, I wish more was explored into the life of Tyler Gage at home or even with his friends, otherwise this film really needed fine tuning with its supporting characters.

But despite a few of the problems that the film had, I did enjoy it.  And it did make a tremendous amount of money and definitely set made things brighter for both Channing Tatum and director Anne Fletcher and many more “Step Up” films to come.

As for the Blu-ray release, for those who own the previous DVD, the special features are the same but the difference is better clarity on video and better sound quality thanks to the lossless soundtrack.  And if you love the film, the upgrade is definitely worth it.

Overall,  “Step Up” may not be an original or even a great dance film, but I still enjoyed the dance choreography and the bad boy meets rich girl storyline.  Back when this film came out, I had low expectations.  But after watching it, I realized that “Step Up” is one of the better dancing films out there.  And since the release of this film, compared to the other “Step Up” films that have been released, “Step Up” still has the better storyline.

If you are a fan of the film or love dancing films, “Step Up” is definitely worth owning on Blu-ray!

21 Jump Street (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

“21 Jump Street” was a gut-busting, piss in your pants type of action comedy film.  I was dreading the film as a die-hard fan of the original TV series but by the end of the film, I enjoyed it so much that I can’t wait for the sequel!   For those who want to laugh and are in the mood for a crazy, hilarious film…”21 Jump Street” is definitely recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2012 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: 21 Jump Street

FILM RELEASE: 2012

DURATION: 109 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French, Spanish, Thai, English – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin Simplified), Chinese (Mandarin Traditional), Indonesian/Bahasa, Korean, Thai

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (Crude and Sexual Content, Pervasive Language, Drug Material, Teen Drinking and Some violence)

Release Date: June 26, 2012

Directed by Phil Lord, Chris Miller

Screenplay by Michael Bacall

Story by Michael Bacall and Jonah Hill

Based on the TV series by Patrick Hasburgh, Stephen J. Cannell

Produced by Stephen . Cannell, Neal H. Moritz

Executive Producer: Jonah Hill, Ezra Swerdlow, Channing Tatum

Music by Mark Mothersbaugh

Cinematography by Barry Peterson

Edited by Joel Negron

Casting by Nicole Abellera, Jeanne McCarthy

Production Design by Peter Wenham

Art Direction by Scott Plauche

Set Decoration by Bob Kensinger

Costume Design by Laah Katznelson

Starring:

Jonah Hill as Schmidt

Channing Tatum as Jenko

Brie Larson as Molly Tracey

Dave Franco as Eric Molson

Rob Riggle as Mr. Walters

DeRay Davis as Domingo

Ice Cube as Captain Dickson

Dax Flame as Zack

Chris Parnell as Mr. Gordon

Ellie Kemper as Ms. Griggs

Jake M. Johnson as Principal Dadier

Nick Offerman as Deputy Chief Hardy

Holly Robinson Pete as Officer Judy Hoffs

Johnny Pemberton as Delroy

Stanley Wong as Roman

Justin Hires as Juario

Brett Lapeyrouse as Amir

Lindsey Broad as Lisa

Former high school foes turned rookie cop partners can’t catch a break – until they’re assigned to pose as students and bust a drug ring inside their old alma mater. Living like teenagers again, they slip back into their adolescent selves and risk the case – and their friendship – with hysterically disastrous results! Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum and Ice Cube star in this outrageously hilarious action-comedy!

For many people who grew up in the ’80s, “21 Jump Street” was the ultimate ensemble cop show.

Aimed at a younger generation, the crime drama series was part of the beginning of the FOX network, which fascinated many people for its youthful or politically incorrect television series and in the case of “21 Jump Street”, many were fascinated by its stars.

Created by Patrick Hasburgh and Stephen J. Cannel, “21 Jump Street” would star young talents Johnny Depp, Holly Robinson, Peter DeLuise, Dustin Nguyen, Frederic Forrest, Steven Williams, Richard Grieco and many more. The concept of the series would be about police officers with youthful appearances and thus, would allow them to be undercover cops in high schools and colleges to investigate drug trafficking and abuse.

The series would air in 1987 through 1991 with a total of  103 episodes.  Fast forward to 2008, Columbia Pictures would have the rights to the film adaptation of the series and actors Jonah Hill (“Superbad”, “Moneyball”, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”) and Michael Bacall (“Inglourious Basterds”, “Grindhouse”, “Pumpkin”) would be responsible for writing the story.  And in Hill’s words, his goal was to create an “R-rated, insane, “Bad Boys” meets John Hughes type movie”.

Tapped to direct the film were writing duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller (“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”, “Clone High” and co-executive producers of the TV sitcom “How I Met Your Mother”).

The film would be a departure from the original TV series which was created as a drama series with a moral message.  The film adaptation would be more of an action comedy film and instead of featuring a group, it would focus on two police officers played by Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum (“The Vow”, “Dear John”, “Step Up”).

And the film which was budgeted at $42 million would become a success for Columbia Pictures/MGM/Original Film as it would earn over $192 million in the box office and also receive positive reviews from film critics.

And now, “21 Jump Street” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in June 2012.

“21 Jump Street” begins in 2005 as it introduces the viewers to Morton Schmidt (as portrayed by Jonah Hill), a shy, smart, Eminem wannabee who wants to ask his female friend out to the prom.  Meanwhile, Greg Jenko (as portrayed by Channing Tatum) is the not-so-smart high school jock who likes to pick on Morton.  And teases him when Morton is shot down by the girl who feels disgusted that Morton asked her out to the prom.

Meanwhile, as Greg is preparing for a wonderful prom and a night of fun, he is given bad news that due to his bad grades, he would not be attending prom.

Fast forward to 2012 and Morton and Greg are in police academy.  And the two become friends as Morton would assist Greg in studying to pass the written tests, while Greg would help Morton with motivating Morton with physical activity exercises.  And with their friendship, both pass the police academy.

And as police officers, both thought their lives would be like the police officers seen on television or movies but instead, both are riding bikes as part of the park patrol.  But one day, the two spot drug deal in progress and both feel if they can bust the drug dealers, they can be promoted and have better police beat.  And eventually, both manage to catch a drug leader Domingo (as portrayed by DeRay Davis, “Semi Pro”, “Life as we Know It”) but with one problem.

The two forgot to read the drug leader his Miranda rights and thus, Domingo is able to walk free from jail.

Upset that both men do not know the Miranda rights, their Captain reassigns them to a revived division known as “21 Jump Street”.

Shocked that their headquarters is at an old Korean church, they and other officers are introduced to Captain Dickson (as portrayed by Ice Cube, “Boyz in the Hood”, “Friday”).  Captain Dickson explains to the officers that their division specializes in infiltrating high schools and they were chosen for their youthful appearances.  As for Morton Schmidt and Greg Jenko, they are assigned to go back to their old high school and find the supplier and distributor of a new synthetic drug that is spreading to campuses (and some students are dying from).

Captain Schmidt gives them orders to also not get expelled and no sexual activity with students, teachers or anyone from the school.  And gives them their identities and classes.

As the two go back to high school and Jenko tries to help Schmidt on how to be cool at high school, both are shocked by how much high school has changed since they last attended.  Being a nerd is cool, gays are more accepted and the groups that existed in high school have all but changed.  A shocking discovery for Jenko but makes Schmidt quite happy, as he feels that he would have been popular.

But on the first day of school, both guys meet Eric (as portrayed by Dave Franco, “Super Bad”, “Fright Night”, “Charlie St. Cloud”) and his group of friends who ask them about their car and the environment.  Meanwhile, Schmidt becomes attracted to Eric’s friend Molly Tracey (as portrayed by Brie Larson, “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World”, “United States of Tara”, “13 Going on 30″).  And when both guys are being admonished by the group about the environment, Jenko’s frustration and anger leads to him punching out Eric’s friend who happens to be gay.

The punch leads both Schmidt and Jenko at the principal’s office and both are warned that if they get into any trouble, they will be expelled.  To make things worse, both guys forget their identities and end up getting their identities switched, so Schmidt ends up being a star athlete who cares about drama and Jenko becomes the student who loves chemistry.  While Jenko tries to get used to his new surroundings, Schmidt gets used to meeting new friends that he starts to like and also being coached by Mr. Walters (as portrayed by Rob Riggle, “The Hangover”, “The Other Guys”).

But as the two try to get used to their undercover high school life, both find out that the person who is in charge of distributing the drugs is the popular environmentalist Eric and now both must do all they can to find the supplier.  But it’s not going to be easy as Schmidt begins to like his new student life so much because he is hanging out with the cool group and becoming good friend with Eric and growing closer with Molly.  As for Jenko, he starts to see the other side of things as he now hangs out with the nerds and sees how his friend Schmidt is changing because he is part of the “popular” crowd.

As the two friends and officers begin to have their differences, will the two be able to solve the case of finding the supplier?

VIDEO:

“21 Jump Street” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1).  For video quality, it appears that there was an intentional decision by cinematographer Barry Peterson (“Jumper”, “Zoolander”, “Starsky & Hutch”) to shoot the film with more subdued colors.  So, the creative decision to go that direction leads to a warmer, subdued, dare I say a little softer look at times.  But there are also scenes that look brighter and darker and if anything, it works for the film.  Black levels are nice and deep, details are good but the film is not vibrant as one may hope for it to be.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“21 Jump Street” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA and French, Spanish, Thai, English-Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital.  As one would expect from a film with plenty of action, the lossless soundtrack for “21 Jump Street” is fantastic.  From gun shots, explosions, crunching metal to you name it…there is wonderful use of the surround channels and LFE.  Dialogue is crisp and clear and even the music sounds fantastic!  Overall, listeners will enjoy the immersive soundscape of those action sequences during their viewing of the film.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Chinese Mandarin (Traditional and Simplified), Indonesian/Bahasa, Korean and Thai.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“21 Jump Street” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio CommentaryFeaturing audio commentary with directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum.
  • Deleted Scenes – (29:32) Featuring 20 deleted scenes.
  • Gag Reel – (4:58) Featuring outtakes from “21 Jump Street”.
  • Cube-O-Rama – (1:53) Featuring Ice Cube scenes and improv not featured in the final cut of the film.
  • Back to School – (7:45) Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Neil Moritz (producer) talk abut going back to high school, its storyline and how the film came to be.
  • Brothers in Arms – (11:30) Producer Neil Moritz, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum talk about their action sequences and casting two opposites.
  • Johnny Depp on Set – (4:42) Directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord along with the cast talk about Johnny Depp’s cameo in the film and their thoughts when they saw him appear on the set.
  • The Rob Riggle Show – (9:24) A featurette on Rob Riggle and how he was cast for the film.
  • Peter Pan on Freeway – (4:12) A featurette of the shooting of the freeway scene.

EXTRAS:

“21 Jump Street” comes with an UltraViolet code to allow for streaming to computers, tablets or smartphones.

Prior to “21 Jump Street” being released to theaters, I was dreading the film.

Why?  Because I was one of those teenagers in the ’80s who loved “21 Jump Street” on television.  I wanted to dress like Officer Tom Hanson (Johnny Depp) and Officer Harry Truman Ioki (Dustin Nguyen) and the show was a big part of my teenage life.  When Depp sported the ’70s vintage watch strap with no watch, I did the same.  When, Nguyen sported a certain hairstyle, I did the same. I would listen to the “21 Jump Street” soundtrack over and over and would have VHS tape of TV recordings of the series.

So, suffice to say, when you hear Jonah Hill will be writing “21 Jump Street”, I kept asking “Why?”.

And now, having watched “21 Jump Street”, I have to say that I really enjoyed this hilarious film.  Yes, it deviates from the TV series that it is more comedy-driven, a lot of crude and sexual content and humor, but it works.  And instead of the ensemble cast, it becomes more of the police buddy movie that has been done before, but with even more crazy comedy and humor that overshadows similar police buddy comedy films such as “Rush Hour”, “Starsky & Hutch” or “The Other Guys”.

And of course, it’s written by Jonah Hill and Michael Bacall, two men who know crude comedy that works for today’s generation.  For example, in one scene, both men were forced to take the synthetic drug and in order to make themselves to vomit it out, both subject themselves to fingering each other’s mouths. Or another scene where the drug reaches its height with the character of Schmidt, and during a track meet run, uses the baton and pretends it’s his own penis.  There are so many crazy, gut-busting scenes that made me laugh out loud and the comedy works.  Especially one hilarious, gross out scene at the end of the film involving actor Rob Riggle, which you don’t see coming.

And “21 Jump Street” is a film that allows Ice Cube to get back to the character with so many F-bombs, it’s so crazy!

But what lends to the film’s efficacy is the unknown.  Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are the unlikely police duo, similar to how Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg were in “The Other Guys” but not as annoying and much more funnier.  “21 Jump Street” taps into the opposites attract and with this unlikely bromance, Hill and Tatum played their characters wonderfully.    And considering the film has made so much money, there is no doubt that we will see a sequel.

As for the old “21 Jump Street” TV series, fans also get to see Johnny Depp, Peter DeLuise and Holly Robinson Peete play their original characters.  While some talents are shown on a TV screen, this small homage to the TV series also made me wonder if the character Greg Jenko (Tatum) had any relation to the short-lived “21 Jump Street” character Captain Richard Jenko from the TV series.

So, while the “21 Jump Street” film adaptation was much different from the TV series, as a fan of the original TV series, I’m glad there were major differences but also managed to interject some of the show into the film, especially showcasing the bromance between original characters Officer Tom Hanson (Depp) and Officer Doug Penhall (DeLuise) and with Schmidt and Jenko.  More or less, the passing of the baton of one era to another.

As for the Blu-ray release, while video quality was good, I wish it was more vibrant but I understand the more dimmer look of the film was possibly a creative decision.  As for the audio, the lossless soundtrack is fantastic.  And there are also many short special features included on the Blu-ray release.

Overall, “21 Jump Street” was a gut-busting, piss in your pants type of action comedy film.  I was dreading the film as a die-hard fan of the original TV series but by the end of the film, I enjoyed it so much that I can’t wait for the sequel!   For those who want to laugh and are in the mood for a crazy, hilarious film…”21 Jump Street” is definitely recommended!

 

The Son of No One (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 15, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Filmmaker/screenwriter Dito Montiel reunites with actor Channing Tatum in a crime thriller.  Featuring a solid cast and great cinematography, “The Son of No One” will appeal to Channing Tatum fans and those who enjoy popcorn crime thrillers.

Images courtesy of © 2010 Sono Productions. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Son of No One

FILM RELEASE: 2011

DURATION: 94 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:35:1), English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Spanish Mono, Subtitles: Spanish

COMPANY: Anchor Bay Films

RATED: R (Violence, Pervasive Language and Brief Disturbing Sexual Content)

RELEASE DATE: February 21, 2012

Directed by Dito Montiel

Written by Dito Montiel

Executive Producer: Boaz Davidson, Danny Dimbort, Patricia Eberle, Cassian Elwes, Alex Francis, Joy Gorman, Avi Lerner, Jake Pushinksy, Richard Rionda Del Castro, Trevor Short, Trudie Styler

Producer: Avi Lerner, Dito Montiel, John Thompson, Holly Wiersma

Line Producer: Brian Bell

Music by Jonathan Elias, David Wittman

Cinematography by Benoit Delhomme

Editing by Jake Pushinsky

Casting by Kerry Barden, Karen E. Etcoff, Paul Schnee

Production Design by Beth ickle

Art Diretion by Michael Ahern

Set Decoration by Carrie Stewart

Costume Design by Sandra Hernandez

Starring:

Al Pacino as Detective Charles Stanford

Channing Tatum as Jonathan White

James Ransone as Officer Thomas Prudenti

Ray Liotta as Captain Marion Mathers

Katie Holmes as Kerry White

Ursula Parker as Charolette “Charlie” White

Jake Cherry as Jonathan Milk” White

Brian Gilbert as Young Vinnie

Tracy Morgan as Vincent Carter

In this searing police thriller, Jonathan (Channing Tatum) is a second-generation cop who gets in over his head when he’s assigned to re-open a double homicide cold case in his Queens neighborhood. An anonymous source feeding new information on the long-unsolved murders to a local reporter (Juliette Binoche) leads to evidence suggesting a possible cover-up by the former lead detective (Al Pacino) who was on the investigation. As Jonathan digs deeper into the assignment, a dark secret about the case emerges, which threatens to destroy his life and his family. Written and directed by Dito Montiel, Son Of No One also stars Tracy Morgan, Katie Holmes, Ray Liotta and Jake Cherry. Music by David Wittman and Jonathan Elias.

Former punk punk musician and Versace model Dito Montiel has come a long way in his life and career.   In 1989, Montiel and his band Gutterboy received notoriety when their band signed a $1 million record deal with Geffen Records and after cashing in with a big recording contract, the band was dropped by the label.

The experience would lead Montiel to writing a best-selling book titled “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints” and would follow with a film adaptation which he wrote and direct.

In that film, Montiel worked with actor Channing Tatum (“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”, “Dear John”, “Step Up”) for the very first time and worked together in the 2009 film “Fighting”.

In 2011, Montiel would write and direct his third film “The Son of No One” and would reunite with Channing and the independent film would also feature talents Al Pacino (“The Godfather”, “Scarface”), Ray Liotta (“Goodfellas”, “Smokin’ Aces”), Katie Holmes (“Batman Begins”, “Go”, “Dawson’s Creek”) and Juliette Binoche (“The English Patient”, “Blue”, “Dan in Real Life”).

The film was selected to close the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and now, “The Son of No One” would receive a Blu-ray and DVD release courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment.

“The Son of No One” is a film that focuses on police officer Jonathan White (played by Channing Tatum).  He is a married to Kerry (played by Katie Holmes) and has a young, ailing daughter who has seizures.  So, both parents are often concerned of the well-being of their daughter.  But for Kerry, she is quite concerned that Jonathan has been transferred to an area two hours from Staten Island (a not so great area) and is now constantly working late hours and is never home for the family.

But their sanctity and Jonathan’s piece-of-mind is shattered when a journalist named Lauren Bridges (played by Juliette Binoche) has printed letters of a possible coverup in 1986 and it is hurting the precinct’s image, especially for Captain Marion Mathers (played by Ray Liotta) who is running for re-election.

These letters startle Jonathan as the letters is anonymously targeted towards him.

Through occasional flashbacks, we are taken back to 1986. Jonathan who was known as “Milk”, lived in the projects and he and his best friend Vinnie had tough lives.  There were drug dealers, pedophiles and creepy people living in his building and the two were always the target of these individuals.

That year, a young Milk killed two people and we are told through flashbacks in 1986 of why he killed them and how he and his friends have kept the murders secret.

But one detective knows that Milk was responsible, Detective Stanford (played by Al Pacino) also was Milk’s father and swept the murders under the rug and covered everything up.

But someone from Jonathan’s past is trying to expose the cover-up and also expose Jonathan’s involvement by sending letters to a journalist hoping to air the NYPD’s dirty laundry.

Captain Marion Mathers is concerned about the press that Lauren is getting for publishing the anonymous letters and wants Jonathan to look into it.  Especially since it may destroy his and the precinct’s reputation.

As Jonathan becomes paranoid of who would release the information and try to hurt him, could it be his old friends from the projects?  Or is someone else responsible?

VIDEO:

“The Son of No One” is presented in 1080p High Definition (widescreen 2:35:1).  The picture quality is fantastic as there is great clarity, detail and good use of cool and warm colors.  Black levels are deep, skin tones are natural and possibly the best part of this Blu-ray release is its visual presentation.

Cinematographer Benoit Delhomme (“1408″, “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”, “The Proposition”) did a wonderful job and great choices on the film’s lighting and Benoit’s cinematography looks fantastic on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Son of No One” is presented in English Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish Mono.  The film is primarily a dialogue-driven film but there are moments such as Jonathan’s car being rammed or a scene with multiple gun shots that does utilize the surround channels.  But it’s dialogue and surround environments and its ambiance that plays the biggest role in the lossless soundtrack.

Subtitles are in Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“The Son of No One” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring an in-depth audio commentary by writer/director Dito Montiel and executive producer/editor Jake Pushinsky.  Although this is one commentary that I wish was fluid, as there are some momentary gaps.
  • Extended Scenes – (6:27) Featuring extended scenes from “The Son of No One”.
  • Trailer – (2:29) The original theatrical trailer for “The Son of No One”.

If there is one major positive I can say about Dito Montiel films, it’s the fact that he is able to bring together an impressive cast for his films.

From his working relationship with Channing Tatum for three films, while “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints” featured impressive casting, “The Son of No One” is quite intriguing that you have Al Pacino and Juliette Binoche starring in this indie crime thriller.

With that being said, it’s great to see Channing Tatum taking on a different type of role that he is cast in.  Usually, he is cast in younger roles or military roles but this time around, he’s a family man with a wife and kid and one mysterious past.  It’s a role that doesn’t require too much emotion and if anything, the character role suits Tatum very well!

As a cop, who along with a few others are keeping a secret that the main protagonist, Jonathan, murdered two junkies when he was young and living in the projects.  While the film had potential, the pacing was interrupted by constant flashbacks and uninspired acting.   And for a solid cast, you would think these talents would be better utilized.  Especially if you have Al Pacino in your film.

I wish I could say that Al Pacino was magnificent but he was barely utilized in the film. Sure, his character plays a pivotal role but I wish his character had much more going on, than these few short scenes.

Casting Tracy Morgan for a crime thriller, may seem a bit odd.  But Tracy Morgan was much easier to take-in as there are no in-your-face jokes or outrageous behavior.  If anything, he does a fine job of playing a restrained character who is emotionally messed up!  No wisecracking at all. This is probably the most serious role I have seen him star in and while he wasn’t utilized all that much, during his scenes…he did a good job playing a serious role.

Ray Liotta in a film is a giveaway.  If you seen his films, you know what kind of character he will be. And that’s all I have to say about Liotta, without giving too much away.

And last, we have Katie Holmes.  She plays the sweet, caring wife but there is unexplored areas that I found a bit frustrating because as a wife who is concerned about your husband, somehow her role was shut down after a major emotional scene.  It’s unfortunate because her role could have been explored much more, but she seems to have disappeared during the last leg of the film’s storyline.

Once again, this is the problem I have with “The Son of No One”.  Character utilization was poor, seemed rushed and while the plot had potential, this back-and-forth between present-time and flashbacks seem to hurt the pacing of the film.  If anything, would rather have less focus on the young actors, more focus on the major talents of this film.

With that being said, “The Son of No One” is not a terribly bad film.  In fact, the film featured awesome cinematography from Benoit Delhomme and an intriguing crime thriller that kept you interested.  It’s an intriguing film but when it comes down to it, the screenplay does feel as if it was rushed.  For a film with a strong cast, I also wish that there was better utilization of the characters during the present-time storyline.

As for the Blu-ray release, the picture quality is fantastic and as for special features, the audio commentary was quite interesting, despite the momentary commentary gaps.

Overall, “The Son of No One” may appeal to Channing Tatum fans or anyone that enjoys popcorn crime thriller.

THE SON OF NO ONE on BD/DVD on 2/21/12

February 4, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

ANCHOR BAY FILMS AND MILLENNIUM FILMS PROUDLY PRESENTS
A NU IMAGE PRODUCTION

THE SON OF NO ONE
Written and Directed by Dito Montiel
STARRING CHANNING TATUM, TRACEY MORGAN, KATIE HOLMES, RAY LIOTTA, JULIETTE BINOCHE,
AL PACINO and JAKE CHERRY

“Exhilarating and Powerful”
-–Avi Offer, NYCMovie Guru

Available on Blu-ray™ and DVD February 21, 2012

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Anchor Bay Films is proud to announce the release of The Son of No One on Blu-ray™ and DVD, February 21, 2012.  A 2-disc Blu-ray™+DVD combo pack will also be available.  Hailed as   “A riveting piece of filmmaking [featuring] one of the best casts of the year” by Joel Amos, MovieFanatic.com, The Son of No One is agripping thriller about how far one police officer will go to keep his darkpast hidden and protect his family.  The release also contains deletedscenes and audio commentary with Writer/Producer/Director Dito Montiel and Editor/Executive Producer Jake Pushinsky.

Jonathan (Channing Tatum 21 Jump Street, The Vow) is a second-generation cop who gets in over his head when he’s assigned to re-open a double homicide cold case in his Queens neighborhood. An anonymous source feeding new information on the long-unsolved murders to a local reporter (Juliette Binoche Cosmopolis, Dan In Real Life, ) leads to evidence suggesting a possible cover-up by the former lead detective (Al Pacino The Godfather, Scarface) who was on the investigation. As Jonathan digs deeper into the assignment, a dark secret about the case emerges, which threatens to destroy his life and his family.

Channing Tatum delivers a gritty and memorable performance, while New York mainstay writer and director Dito Montiel (Guide to Recognizing Your Saints) is at the top of his game. Also starring Tracy Morgan (NBC’s “30 Rock”), Katie Holmes (Batman Begins), Ray Liotta (Goodfellas) and Jake Cherry (Night at the Museum), The Son of No One is a tense and powerful thriller filled with suspense, secrets and lies.

About Anchor Bay Films
Anchor Bay Films is unique in that it offers the creative community a fully integrated distribution capability on all platforms and an international solution extending beyond the U.S.  Anchor Bay Films is a division of Anchor Bay Entertainment and is on the ground providing quality distribution with operations in the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, as well as distribution capabilities in other key territories. The company focuses on a platform release strategy for its films with an eye toward maximizing theirpotential across all ancillary distribution platforms. Upcoming is Corman’s World about Academy Award® winning filmmaker Roger Corman which premiered at Cannes 2011.  Films in its library include the critically-acclaimedcomedy City Island starring Andy Garcia and Solitary Man starring Michael Douglas as well as the 2011 releases of Kill the Irishman starring Ray Stevenson, Vincent D’Onofrio, Val Kilmer and Christopher Walken and Toronto Film Festival award-winner Beautiful Boy with Maria Bello and Michael Sheen.  Anchor Bay Entertainment is a subsidiary of Starz Media, LLC (www.starzmedia.com) which is an operating unit of Starz, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Liberty Media Corporation (NASDAQ: LMCA).

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE RETURNS IN FEBRUARY WITH THREE BACK-TO-BACK SHOWS

January 11, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

NEW YORK  – January 11, 2012 – Channing Tatum makes his debut as host on February 4. Tatum can next be seen alongside Jonah Hill in the feature film “21 Jumpstreet” due out March 16. His past film credits include “Coach Carter,” “Step Up,” “Stop-Loss,” and “Dear John.”

The Grammy-nominated band Bon Iver will make their SNL debut alongside Tatum. The group released their second album, “Bon Iver,” in June 2011 to critical praise garnering attention for many of their singles including “Holocene,” which received two Grammy nominations and “Calgary.”

Zooey Deschanel will make her debut SNL appearance as host on February 11. Deschanel stars in the hit sitcom “New Girl,” for which she recently earned Golden Globe nominations for both Best Actress and Best Television Comedy. Deschanel has starred in several films including “500 Days Of Summer,” “Yes Man,” and “Elf;” and along with her many film and television credits, boasts an impressive musical career as one half of the critically acclaimed band, She&Him. Deschanel was nominated for a Grammy Award for her original song “So Long,” written and performed for the feature film “Winnie The Pooh.”

The “swag pop” music duo, Karmin, will make their first musical guest appearance on February 11. Best known for their covers of Billboard chart toppers, Karmin are releasing their debut album with their own original songs including “Crash Your Party” and “Broken Hearted.”

“Saturday Night Live” is produced in association with Broadway Video. The creator and executive producer is Lorne Michaels.

Dear John (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

An emotional, romantic and heartfelt film from the writer of “The Notebook”.   “Dear John” is a film about finding love, losing love and as a viewer, you find yourself wanting to see if love can ever be rekindled.  Definitely a Blu-ray for those looking for an entertaining, romantic film.

Images courtesy of © 2010 Dear John, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Dear John

DURATION: 108 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English, 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English -Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH

COMPANY: Screen Gems/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (For Some Sensuality and Violence)

RELEASE DATE: May 18, 2010

Based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks

Directed by Lasse Hallstrom

Screenplay by Jamie Linden

Executive Producer: Jeremiah Samuels, Tucker Tooley

Produced by Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey, Ryan Kavanaugh

Co-Produced by Ken Halsband

Music by Deborah Lurie

Cinematography by Terry Stacey

Edited by Kristina Boden

Casting by Joanna Colbert, Mark Fincannon, Richard Mento

Production Design by Kara Lindstrom

Art Direction by Mark Garner

Set Decoration by Summer Eubanks

Costume Design by Dana Campbell, Kathryn Langston

Starring:

Channing Tatum as John Tyree

Amanda Seyfried as Savannah Curtis

Richard Jenkins as Mr. Tyree

Henry Thomas as Tim Wheddon

D.J. Cotrona as Noodles

Cullen Moss as Rooster

Gavin McCulley as Starks

Jose Lucena Jr. as Bery

Keith Robinson as Captain Stone

Scott Porter as Randy

Leslea Fisher as Susan

William Howard Bowman as Daniels

David Andrews as Mr. Curtis

Mary Rachel Dudley as Mrs. Curtis

It was two weeks that would change their lives forever. Soon after John (Channing Tatum – PUBLIC ENEMIES, G.I. JOE) and Savannah (Amanda Seyfried – MAMMA MIA, TV’s “Big Love”) fall madly in love, their relationship is put on hold. With one leaving to complete his service, and the other to complete her college education, they pass the time by exchanging a continuous stream of love letters, until they can be reunited permanently a year later. But when war breaks out, their separation is extended indefinitely. Will their relationship survive the greatest test of all: the test of time? Based on the bestselling novel from the author of “The Notebook,” DEAR JOHN is a timeless romance that will warm your heart.

When it comes to films that are adapted from Nicholas Sparks novels, you know you can expect romance, conflict and for the most part, for those who enjoy romantic films, films that can usually be seen as uplifting and remembered.

From Sparks novels such as “Message in a Bottle”, “A Walk to Remember”, “The Notebook” and “Nights in Rodanthe”, “Dear John” is the latest novel to receive an adaptation.  With a screenplay by Jamie Linden (“We Are Marshall”), the film would be directed by Lasse Hallstrom (“Hachiko: A Dog’s Story”, “Chocolat”, “The Cider House Rules”, “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”).  The film would feature cinematography by Terry Stacey (“P.S. I Love You”, “Adventureland”) and music composed by Debora Lurie (“Dreamgirls”, “Spider-Man 3″, “Wanted”, “X-men 2″).

Although the film was not well-received by critics, films based on Nicholas Sparks novels have proven to become quite successful and was the film responsible of knocking “Avatar” out of the #1 box office position (note: Avatar was #1 for seven weeks) and “Dear John” which was budgeted at $25 million would earn over $94 million in the box office.

The film would revolve around two individuals during their summer vacation in 2001.   The film begins with images of John Tyree (played by Channing Tatum, “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”, “Public Enemies”), a soldier of the US Army Special Forces who has been shot in battle.  While he lays down, all that goes through his mind is his childhood trip to the U.S. Coin Mint and in his words, the last things he thought about before blacking out was “you”.

We are then taken back to the Summer of 2001 as John Tyree is enjoying his two weeks vacation at the beach and surfing during the Summer.  But while on top of the boardwalk, he sees Savannah Lynn Curtis (played by Amanda Seyfried, “Mamma Mia!”, “Jennifer’s Body”, “Veronica Mars”) along with her friends.  Savannah’s purse falls towards the water below and John jumps from the boardwalk to retrieve it for her.  After getting her purse, the two immediately the two start getting to know each other and enjoying each other’s company.  The two talk about how he will be leaving to go back to his base in Germany in two weeks, while she will be going to college in two weeks.

We are introduced to Savannah’s friends including her neighbor Tim Wheddon (played by Henry Thomas, “Red Velvet”, “Gangs of New York”) who is a single father raising his autistic son Allan.  We are also introduced to her good friend Randy (played by Scott Porter, “Friday Night Lights, “Caprica”) who likes Savannah and quickly becomes jealous of Savannah spending her time with John.

As both John and Savannah enjoy each other’s company and go on a date the following day.  Savannah starts to learn how John was had some trouble when he was younger and when she starts questioning him about his relationship with his father, John closes up.  But Savannah persists and wants to meet John’s father.

So, John takes her to his home.  A bit uncomfortable about the situation, because his father is very quiet and is very meticulous about things.  He is surprised that Savannah is actually taking an interest in the activities of Mr. Tyree (played by Richard Jenkins, “The Visitor”, “The Kingdom”, “Six Feet Under”) who enjoys coin collecting.   Savannah notices his symptoms and realizes he is autistic, something that John is not aware of.  But the two end up having a good first date and the two begin seeing more of each other.

We learn that Savannah is involved in charity and her dream is to open a horse ranch for autistic kids.  John feels that Savannah may be too good for him but Savannah reaffirms her interest in him and both fall in love with each other and from that point on, the two are inseparable and she spends time with John and his father which is significant because John and his father have not been very close.

As the days near the end of their summer vacation, the two have an argument as Savannah, talks about wanting to help autistic children and then brings up his father.  John is upset that Savannah thinks his father is autistic (in his mind autistic=mentally retarded) and thinks that she has only spent time with him and her father only because she was observing him.

But the two eventually make up and as the two weeks are now up, the two must split up.  They promise that after a year’s time, they will reunite.  But for now, to make the time pass, they must write each other letters.

And for a short time, as the two communicate by letters, all seems to go well for both John and Savannah as they count down the days when they will be together again…that is until 9/11.

VIDEO:

“Dear John” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1) and because the film is shot outdoors for many of the scenes, the colors are absolutely vibrant.   Amazing detail when it comes to the film’s textures, backgrounds, ocean water to skin pores are quite detailed in HD.  Flesh tones are natural, blacks are nice and deep, a fine layer of grain but “Dear John” is a very vibrant film full of colors and for the most part, looks great on Blu-ray.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Dear John” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA and in English – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital.  Although the film is a romantic film (and one shouldn’t expect anything major in terms of surround channel or LFE usage). There is probably one or two major action scenes in which John and his fellow soldiers looking for insurgents, but for the most part, dialogue is clear and understandable and the music presented in the film sounds great via lossless.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dear John” comes with the following special features:

  • BD Exclusive: movieIQ+sync™ and BD-Live connect you to real-time information on the cast, music, trivia and more while watching the movie!
  • Deleted and Alternate Scenes - (10:13) 12 deleted and alternate scenes.
  • Alternate Ending – (3:41) The alternate ending which I’m glad that it wasn’t used for the final cut.  It’s a bit stalker-ish for my taste.
  • Outtakes – (2:24) Featuring outtakes from the film.
  • A Conversation with Channing Tatum, Amanda Seyfried and Lasse Hallstrom – (5:22) Director Lass Hallstrom talks about working with Seyfriend and Hallstrom while the two talents talk about working with the director.
  • Transforming Charleston – (14:52) Producer Marty Bowen talks about creating locations of around the world in Charleston, South Carolina and working with a talented production team.
  • Military in Movies: Dear John’s Military Advisors – (11:02) Lt. Col. Gregory Bishop, Dept. of Defense Army liason for “Dear John” talks about the characters and making the film seem real in a military perspective.
  • Mr. Tyree, The Mule, and Benny Dietz – (4:53) Benny Dietz talks about using his knowledge of coin collecting and integrating his knowledge and history of the coins for the film.
  • The Story of Braeden Reed – (24:33) A featurette about Braeden Reed who plays the autistic child Allan.  Braeden is autistic and his parents talk about discovering his autism, how they have dealt with it and also how the filmmakers incorporated him into the film.

“Dear John” is a touching, heartwarming and enjoyable romantic film.  The chemistry of Amanda Seyfried and Channing Tatum really worked onscreen and the 9/11 storyline as well the inclusion of the autism storyline worked as well.

Amanda Seyfried continues to amaze me.  As an actress, we are starting to see her talent emerge onscreen.   She has shown us her diversity as an actress in films such as “Mamma Mia!” to  showing us something different with “Jennifer’s Body” but “Dear John” is a film that really shows us how much depth she has an actress and how she can literally transform herself into that character.

And as for Channing Tatum, I felt he was a bit wooden in terms of acting when it came to his role on “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” but for “Dear John”, I felt his acting has improved and I actually have a few military friends who have similar behavior of his character, so in some ways, that stoic, quiet and quick-to-anger character was believable.  And it helps that “Dear John” producers utilized several military advisors for the film.

But the film, although enjoyable is not perfect. When the film begins to focus on the character of John and less on Savannah, the film tends to lose its magic because we are so used to seeing the two onscreen together.  As if these two individuals can take on the world.  But “Dear John” starts to veer off in a different direction after 9/11 and John, the soldier is conflicted as his fellow soldiers are willing to fight for their country and all plan to re-enlist.  John wants to do the same but that promise he kept to Savannah of reuniting with her, he doesn’t know what to do.

And as one part of the film explores the relationship of John and Savannah, the other begins to focus on the father and son relationship.  The fact that John and his father never had a relationship when he became a teenager and what kept them together was their interest in coins.  A hobby that John grew out of and never understood why his father became addicted to it.

But as much as one would hope the film would focus on the actual relationship, it was a bold move by the writer to really switch things up in the plot.  Risky and possibly one of the major striking plot lines that will either be appreciated or disliked by the viewer.

Film critic Matt Mueller of TotalFilm.com writes, “Think twice before parting with your own hard-earned, though. This is a slothful weepie, plagued by a sickly mishmash of plot strands and a gaping chemistry hole at its core.”

In some way, Mueller comment is a bit specious.  Yes, the focus on the relationship is important and straying away from it because of 9/11 seems a bit off and does leave a “hole at its core”.  But at the same time, the character of John and what took place after 9/11 are emotions many soldiers had.  There are many soldiers who knew they were going to leave their love ones, many knew that they may never come back but their honor and their duty as a soldier is something we read about heavily in the news after 9/11.  And I’m sure many soldiers after that tragic day, felt it was their duty to re-enlist.

ViewLondon film critic Matthew Turner writes, “The main problem with the film is that the plot is so thinly written as to be practically non-existent. Yes, there’s chemistry between the two leads, but there’s no emotional depth to their romance and, given that the title of the film pretty much gives away the supposedly crucial emotional moment, it’s hard to care whether they get back together or not.”

I have to agree with Turner, especially compared to other films based on Nicholas Sparks novels, chemistry and emotional/romantic depth have always played a major part in the film adaptations.  But I did care if the two would get back together or not.  There is no doubt that these two characters love each other but one lives in the US tormented that the man she loves may never come back and then the man on the battlefield feels he could keep a balance with his duty to the military and is kept going by his love for Savannah and that he can return after he has served his duty.  But there are twists and turns along the way and things manage to come full circle.

And various references by critics in regards to Savannah being to nice, helping out a charity and wanting to open a horse riding school for autistic children seem to be a bit farfetched for them.  But I actually knew a military wife after 9/11 who started a pet rescue and also adopted several children while her husband was on leave, so it’s not as farfetched as it would seem.  But I suppose it all depends on one’s experience, but there are people like Savannah out there as farfetched as some others may believe.

As for the letter writing, it may seem a bit cliche to some and particularly maddening to those who  wonder why e-mail is not being featured as this is a modern film as opposed to a Vietnam War or World War II film.  But there were lines that added to the story that the locations that John was at at the time had no access to e-mail.  But really, when you think about it, writing e-mails to each other doesn’t have that same feel as two people writing about letters.  Call me old school but I felt it worked for the film and I find it much more romantic about reading one’s emotion on paper and hand written versus typed on an e-mail.

But I suppose that this film is one of those films that will either be enjoyed or disliked and for me, I felt that there was a good amount of romance and emotional conflict to make “Dear John” entertaining.  And this is a Blu-ray release that looks simply gorgeous in HD and although not an action film that will provide you an immersive soundscape, the lossless audio works quite well for the film.

Overall, “Dear John” will definitely entertain those who enjoyed previous film adaptations of Nicholas Sparks novels.  By no means is this film as emotional and romantic as “The Notebook” but if you stay with the journey and not get so intertwined with its plot deviation from its romantic core, keep an open mind and you may eventually enjoy the payoff at the end of the film.

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